LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Rescue Mission should not be growth industry

After reading the articles about Bethel Village over the last week some facts are called for. Most of these stories start out well but rapidly shift to feel good language about the good Bethel Village does.

Fact 1: At the 2010 meeting in Springfield (I was present) the Rescue Mission stated that its “intent” was to move only the women and some children to Bethel Village to get them away from the men.

Fact 2: The plan presented called for Bethel Village to be expanded in three phases and eventually house 120 people in several large buildings. They called these buildings “barracks.” The project is not the benign small development described in most of the printed stories,

Fact 3: When pressed on the issue of women and children only (now and in the future), the Rev. Billy Fox replied that their intent was to have only women and children at the facility. When pressed about the future occupants Mr. Fox stated it would depend on the “need.”

The “need”? Well, just what is the need? Clearly the “need” was to be determined by Mr. Fox and his board of directors. The community that these decisions will impact will have no say in the future. The Mission wants us to decide based on the merits of the project as it sees it now with just a few new beds, not the large complex it envisions for the future.

Fact 4: The judge states that the crime and problems were just perceived at the proposed location and not of substance. That argument seems to have merit. However, I would submit that the crime and problems the downtown area has related to the Mission are real. The arrest records are real. The loitering is real. The crime is real. If not, why is Panama City so eager to move the Mission elsewhere?

What happens when the NEED changes and Bethel Village gets re-purposed and is the large complex as planned? Will these problems be imported into our community? There is nothing to prevent that from happening.

The Mission wants a blank check to “do good,” as it sees fit, in our neighborhood and we are supposed to just shut up and get out of their way? We all should ask ourselves if we really want a second Rescue Mission in Bay County and if its services should be a growth industry.

JAMES SAVAGE

Springfield

Read more: http://www.newsherald.com/articles/mission-93709-village-bethel.html#ixzz1emYtK3vh

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